- Want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in your backyard but keep OUT of the public eye? Tom and Leslie share the best ways to plant privacy screens as a natural option over fencing.
- Building a new deck is a great way to start really enjoying your outdoor spaces, but what exactly is the right TYPE of wood to use? We walk you through the four most common options to help you chose the best decking at a great price.
- By the time most of us spot a roof leak, the water is usually dripping through a ceiling somewhere. But roof leaks actually start forming a LOT earlier than that. Find out how to catch leaks-in-the-making.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Justina needs help identifying whether she has carpenter ants or termites.
- Paul from Hawaii needs help getting rid of a strong mildew smell under a granite countertop sink.
- Eloise in North Carolina has a problem with squirrels eating away on her home.
- Ken from North Dakota needs advice on how to choose the best attic vents for his house.
- Debbie in Arkansas wants to know how to remove liquid nails from exposed brick walls.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re here to help you take on your home improvement projects. You’ve got a do-it-yourself project? You want to get something done here for the warm weather ahead? You want to build a deck? You want to build a patio?
I did that this weekend. Not exactly a patio but I built some bases for our hoses. We come – they come off two sides of the house and we had a paver set there before, Leslie. But over the years, even though we did a good job and we put them in – it was probably 20 years – they settled. I just noticed they were getting overgrown. I said, “Ah. I’m going to tear it all out.” And I put in a concrete base, a little bit of a slab and rebuilt it on top of that. It came out good because I guess I needed a weekend project, so I found one.
LESLIE: You’re always able to find a project. Don’t even try it.
TOM: No doubt.
If you guys are looking for a weekend project or maybe you’ve got one you need some help with, that’s what we do. We’re here to help you get it done, get it done right, so you can enjoy the warm weather ahead. You can help yourself by reaching out to us. You can go to The Money Pit website at MoneyPit.com/Ask. MoneyPit.com/Ask. Or you can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you are enjoying a relaxing afternoon in your own backyard, it’s definitely one of the true joys of home ownership. But if you prefer to keep out of the public eye, privacy screening can help. We’re going to give you some tips on landscaped privacy screens that provide a natural option over fencing and the best ways to get it done.
LESLIE: And also ahead, warmer weather months mean that it’s a great time to start really enjoying all of those outdoor spaces. And a wood deck is a great way to do just that. But if you’re planning a new deck, what exactly is the right type of lumber you should be using? We’re going to walk you through the four most common options, just ahead.
TOM: And by the time most of us spot a roof leak, the water is usually dripping through a ceiling somewhere. But you know, roof leaks actually start forming a lot earlier than that. So we’re going to share how you can catch leaks in the making, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. From bathrooms to basements and demolition to décor, we’re your coach, your counselor, your cheerleader for all of your projects, big or small.
TOM: And sometimes your therapist, as well.
LESLIE: Usually, that comes first.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got a great giveaway. We’ve got the Wagner Control Pro Airless Paint Sprayer to give out to one lucky listener drawn at random. This is an awesome tool. It makes painting projects, inside and out, really fast. If you’d like to qualify, all you need to do is reach out to us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Justina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JUSTINA: You see, we just bought a house that’s a 1920s home. And in the front of the house, there are several pillars. And it appears like there might be carpenter ants or termites that have – there’s basically big holes in the base of the columns.
JUSTINA: So, the porch columns are one piece and then below, there is just a separate piece of wood. They’re like these decayed blocks in the front of these porch columns.
JUSTINA: So it’s really just the bottom segment and the actual pillar itself seems to be intact and in good shape. It’s just the bottom of it. So, I was really just wondering if that’s something we should just try to take the pillars out and put something solid at the bottom that isn’t wood? Because we’re going to treat the pests if it’s carpenter ants or what-have-you.
JUSTINA: But I just wanted to know what your thoughts were in terms of filling the hole in the wood that’s there or just swapping it completely.
TOM: Sure. Yeah.
So the hole that you described, is it like a ¼-inch to 3/8-inch diameter hole, as if it was done by a drill bit?
JUSTINA: No, no. It’s 2-inch – it looks like if you scooped two chunks out of ice cream or something.
TOM: Does the wood look mushy?
JUSTINA: I wouldn’t say mushy. But it doesn’t – no. No, I wouldn’t say mushy.
TOM: So here’s the thing. I’m trying to determine whether this is insect damage or just straight decay, because they actually can overlap each other sometimes.
JUSTINA: Yeah. It’s definitely partially insect because I could see what looks like the head of an ant but I couldn’t see if there were wings there.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean ants love to crawl into damp spaces, so they may not even have damaged it. You don’t really know. But I’m going to give you some indications of – maybe this will help you at least determine what it is.
If it’s a carpenter ant, you’re going to see that – think of the wood as having rings, like the rings of a tree. So insects – in particular, ants – will eat the softwood, the summer growth, but leave the hardwood, which is the thin ring. So they’ll eat it out in a pattern and that’ll be clearly discernable.
The difference in damage between a carpenter ant and a termite is a termite will eat the same thing but the termite will usually pack that space with sand that they’ll pull up or dirt. Because they create what’s called a “mud tunnel” so that they’re not exposed to daylight. They like to do their work in the dark.
And if it’s just straight decay, it’s going to be just sort of brown and mushy and very organic. And sometimes, you’ll have a little bit of carpenter-ant damage and then the carpenter ants leave and then it starts to rot and it all kind of works together.
But look, no matter what it is, if you’re going to do a preventative insect treatment, that will take care of that. Now, in terms of decay, there is a product called WoodEpox. It’s made by a company called Abatron– A-b-a-t-r-o-n. You can find this stuff online, you can find it at Abatron.com, you can find it on Amazon. I’ve used this many times. It’s WoodE – the letter E – p-o-x.
Now, it’s a two-part product. So you buy – when you buy it, you get equal parts of A and B. And it’s kind of like a putty. And you mix them together in your hand like you’re playing with dough. And once they’re all mixed up, you press it into place into these holes. Try to get it so it doesn’t protrude so much, because after it dries – and I usually give it a day – you’re going to find that it is rock-solid and you can also sand it, scrape it. You can file it, you can chisel it, you can cut it just like wood. And so it’s going to fill up all that decayed area and then you can sand it flat. And then once you’re done, you can repaint. And in terms of that, I would prime the surfaces well and then I would repaint them.
So if the damage is such that it’s repairable, that’s what I would so. I would use WoodEpox on that. And if it’s just so much damage that the whole thing is just a mushy mess, well, in that case you’re going to have to rebuild them. And to do that, if these are load-bearing columns, you have to take the weight off of it. And this now gets a little bit more complicated.
I did this project, not because of rot but because a friend of mine had done some work on this home and he had a deck that was supported by pilings or like this. And these columns – or the deck was supported by columns. You shouldn’t say pilings because that’s going to confuse you. That’s also part of a foundation. But it had columns and they’re structural columns. And because of all the supply issues, he was short one column. So, the column finally came in. And the contractor is long gone; he can’t get him back. I said, “Let me come over and we’ll do it together.”
But what we had to do was I took a car jack – like a hydraulic car jack – and I cut 2x4s to fit from the top of the car jack to the underside of the porch beam. And I very slowly jacked it up just a little bit to take the pressure off – because that was necessary to remove the temporary column, which was done out of a couple of 2x4s – and then slip in the brand-new column, which was going to be – have its permanent home. And then once we got it in place, I released the jack, the deck came back down, it compressed everything in place and we were good to go. But you have to know to sort of take that weight off that’s supported a little bit while you remove a load-bearing column. And that’s why I said that’s a little complicated for a basic DIYer. But that’s what’s involved.
JUSTINA: Yeah. No, that’s really helpful. I kind of wanted to explore options. And we’ve got lots of projects going on, so I wanted to see what’s within reach so …
TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that gives you some good direction on this.
JUSTINA: It really does. And so far, your podcast has been amazing. I’ve learned so much. Always taking notes and writing down new materials.
TOM: Oh, well, thank you.
JUSTINA: So, thanks so much for calling me back.
TOM: Do us a big favor and leave us a nice five-star review, will you? That means a lot to us.
JUSTINA: Definitely will. Really appreciate it.
TOM: OK. Thanks very much.
JUSTINA: Thanks. Bye.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Let us know what you are working on. There are a ton of projects that you can be tackling this time of year outside, inside, whatever it is.
And you know what? Now is a great time to tackle some painting projects. We’ve got a great prize to help you do those. We’ve got the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer.
Now, the Wagner Control Pro is going to allow you to take on really big projects on your own instead of hiring that pro. And that’s going to save you money. And there’s also 55-percent less overspray than those traditional airless sprayers. And get this: you can paint three times faster than if you were using a roller.
It is a great prize for this time of year. It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
TOM: And that Wagner Control Pro 170 Paint Sprayer is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Reach out to us at MoneyPit.com/Ask with your question.
LESLIE: Paul in Hawaii has got a leaky bathroom.
Tell us what’s going on.
PAUL: Yes. In my master bathroom, there’s a granite countertop sink with – it’s a countertop with two sinks. The left sink, underneath the cabinet, constantly has a strong mildew smell. Now, I’ve cut the back of the cabinet out to check the drywall. No leaks. I’ve cut a hole in the floor of the cabinets to look at the concrete. No leaks. I don’t know where it’s coming from. I’ve got a bucket right now of those crystals that absorb moisture. The thing is full of water. I’ve had a friend of mine who’s another contractor – I’m also a contractor – and we can’t figure out what’s going on.
TOM: So you have high humidity in this cabinet, is that what you’re saying?
PAUL: Yes. High humidity in the cabinet. I live in a very dry area so it’s not like there’s moisture in the air from the outside doing it. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s causing it. I …
TOM: And you’re on a slab?
PAUL: On a slab floor, correct.
TOM: Slab floors are very hydroscopic. They pull moisture up from the dirt, up through the slab and into the cabinetry itself. You might just want to think about venting this cabinet. Have you ever left the doors open for a week to see if it made a difference? Because I bet it would.
PAUL: It does. It actually does.
Now, here’s one thing I must tell you: there’s an outdoor shower on the opposite side of that wall but it’s all granite, sealed to the tile. So, I can’t imagine how it would be coming in from that side but anything’s possible.
LESLIE: Yeah. But could it just be a condensation issue, like when you’re running cold water and the warmth and humidity of just being in Hawaii, moisture forms on the cold-water pipes, drip, drip, drip?
PAUL: I don’t think that’s it. It just doesn’t seem to – that doesn’t seem to be the problem. The only thing I can think of, somehow moisture is, like you said before, is coming underneath the ground and up into the cabinet somehow. I guess that’s probably what’s happening and (audio gap) how to solve that. But your idea of venting that cabinet is probably a really great idea and there’s a way I could do that. I could put a small, round vent in the – to the outside from that cabinet wall there.
TOM: I think it’s moisture that’s coming up through the cement slab and it’s congregating in this unconditioned space of the cabinet. And it’s building up to the point where you’re noticing it, vis-à-vis a moisture smell, which you’re calling “mildew.” And I think if you vent the cabinet, that that’s going to go away.
PAUL: Alright. Well, listen, I’ll definitely consider that venting. That was a very good idea. Thank you for taking my call.
LESLIE: Well, enjoying a relaxing afternoon in your own backyard is one of the true joys of home ownership. But what if you’ve ever felt that your neighbors are just getting an eyeful every time you’re out there? It might be a good idea to create a more private area for yourselves.
TOM: Yeah. It’s advised. And you know what? There are lots of really natural ways to do just that.
Now, typically, when you think about privacy screening, you assume it takes a fence to do that. But there are some natural ways that you can do the same thing and they do a really good job. So here are a couple of good options.
First up, a line of evergreen trees or arborvitae can definitely give you some year-round seclusion even better than the fence, because there are no municipal restrictions on how high they can grow. And arborvitae is a good choice because it doesn’t need pruning to keep its full shape from top to bottom. And it also is very adaptable; it works on a wide range of growing conditions.
And if there are deer in your area, like mine, go with Green Giant arborvitae. I have said this before but we put our Green Giant line of arborvitaes in 2 years ago and so far so good. We have not noticed any nibbling. Of course, they’re nibbling the other plants that are around the property but not those. So, I’m pretty impressed that the Green Giants definitely keep the deer away.
LESLIE: Now, trees that are evergreens, they’re also a great option. But if there are power lines above this privacy screen you’re creating, you’re not going to want trees that are so big that they’re going to grow into those wires. I mean we did Leyland cypress, which is sort of in the arborvitae variety over there. And they have grown so fast that I find, every so often, I’ve got to come in and cut them down because they just want to wrap around the wires. Because I’ve had them, what now, probably 18 years and they’ve easily been 30 feet tall in no time. So those guys grow.
So you have to pay attention to the evergreen or the tree or whatever you’re picking. You need to pay attention to their width when that item is mature. Now, the rule is that spacing between the trunks when you plant should equal that mature width. While your ideal growing conditions will vary for sure by species, one thing all of these evergreens have in common is that they love being in the sunshine. So you want to give them at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. And their foliage is going to remain full and that will help keep your privacy intact.
Now, if you need to get a sense of privacy right away, you want to select specimens that are at least 6 feet tall already, with green foliage and very moist root balls. Now, they’re going to reach 15 feet or more when they mature. And these trees need to be planted far enough apart so that they’ll be touching when they’re fully grown. But if you put them too close together in the beginning, they’re going to kind of stunt each other’s growth. So you have to make sure that you’re really paying attention to how big these guys are going to get.
And again, that spacing will depend on the variety you choose. So if you’re unsure, when you go to the garden center, ask these questions. How big? How wide? What kind of spacing? You want to do it right the first time.
TOM: Yeah. You know, look, when the hedge fills in, it’s amazing. But you’ve got to be patient. You’re not going to get instant satisfaction here like you would if you use the fence. But they are absolutely beautiful and if you do it right, it’s going to last forever.
Hey, if you’ve got a question about your home improvement project, inside or out, reach out to us right now. Just click on the Leave a Message button and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
LESLIE: Eloise in North Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors: squirrels.
Eloise, one tried to get into my screened-in porch last week because of a pizza box. I can only – and it scared the bejesus out of me.
TOM: Must have been an Italian squirrel.
LESLIE: Tell us. What’s going on?
ELOISE: The squirrels have decided that they like the coziness of getting inside and down into the eaves of the porch rather than to nest in a tree. And they have started eating away at my house. I’ve noticed places where they’ve been gnawing, as well as the nests that are down in the eaves. How can I get rid of them?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of ways that you can deal with squirrels in the attic. It’s kind of like bats in your belfry: they drive you crazy. But there are some ways to try to manage these populations.
First of all, you can trap and release. If you invested in a couple or even one, Havahart traps – Havahart is a trap that has a door on it that lets the squirrel in, doesn’t harm them. Usually, you’ll use an apple or something like that as bait. We usually recommend you wire it to the frame of the trap, because they’ll figure it out and they’ll steal it and not get stuck in the trap. And then once they get stuck in the trap, you take the whole trap, stick it in the trunk of your car, drive out to a woodsy area, lift the door and off they will run happily to once again rejoin Mother Nature.
Another thing that you can do is you could consider using a squirrel repellant. There are different types of repellants that are available. They usually are repellants that are designed to emulate a natural predator of squirrels, like fox or something of that nature. And you either spray them or you – sometimes they’re in a bag and you hang them in the area and that can deter them.
But really, the first thing I would do is try to seal up any gaps that are allowing them to get into this attic space to begin with.
ELOISE: Yeah, I have some homework to do. Thank you so much.
TOM: Ah, you sure do. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ken from North Dakota on the line with a question about roofing.
What can we do for you today?
KEN: So I have a 20-year-old house that I reshingled recently and took out the power vent and put in – well, when we finished the roof, of course, then I put in the continuous ridge vent.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.
KEN: And when the power vent was in there, the soffits were all full up with insulation and then there was just – every fifth rafter, they had the 4-foot baffle to allow air in.
KEN: So, now, my question is: with the continuous ridge vent, do I need to open up the soffits so that there’s more ventilation in there?
TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, replacing – removing that power vent was a really smart thing. I’m not sure if you realize this but removing it basically is going to make your whole home more efficient. Because those power attic ventilators, what happens is in the summertime when they kick on, they’re so powerful that they take air not only out of the attic but they’ll reach down into the house, through all the nooks and crannies and spaces around wiring and plumbing and such, and it will pull out all the air-conditioned air or some portion of it, which means you have to replace it and it costs you more to cool. So that part was good. Ridge vent was good.
To your question about the soffits, yes, you would be better off having those soffits be completely opened as opposed to every few feet. When you had the power ventilator, you were able to get away with it but continuous ridge and soffit vents are the best way to go. They work together to flush out warm air in the summer and cool, moist air in the winter, which can make your insulation inefficient.
KEN: Correct. Alright. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate the help.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning to build a deck project to expand your outside-living space, you might be wondering what kind of material to use. Well, according to Consumer Reports, wood remains the most popular choice for decking, even with all of the composite-decking products available. But we all know that wood does need a fair amount of regular maintenance to stay in good shape and some types of wood need more than others.
Now, the four most common choices for wood decking are cedar, ipe, pine and redwood and they all vary when it comes to their ratings for performance and value. So here is what you need to consider.
TOM: Now, first up, let’s talk about climate and weathering. Whether you live in the strong sunshine or have really arid heat of the West or the warm humidity of the South, weather has a big impact on the durability of your deck. Slip-resistance is also important, particularly if your deck is going to be near a pool. Now, strength is, of course, a key. Do you like to entertain a crowd? Wood decking stands up really well for bending and bowing.
And also, some wood materials are better at resisting accidental stains and dents, like hamburger grease and stuff like that that flies off the grill, which often come with active families using those grills all the time like we do. I mean it’s pretty much a nightly thing at our house.
And of course, there’s also the cost factor, which can vary a lot.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to rankings among cedar, ipe, pine and redwood, the natural Western redcedar was named the top choice for its overall performance and value. Now, it scored highly for its resistance to flexing and weathering and surprisingly, it’s about half the price of natural ipe, which is a popular and strong South American hardwood that was ranked a close second. Now, cedar is a softwood, though, so it is susceptible to surface damage. It’s also about 30-percent more expensive than pine, which is the cheapest wood option. But that’s got to be pressure-treated to resist rot and that’s ranked third for its performance.
TOM: Now, between the costs and its fair performance ratings, natural redwood placed fourth in the rankings. And some homeowners still do love the look although, like cedar and ipe, redwood is naturally resistant to rot and decay. Now, that said, you should know that that beautiful redwood color, it doesn’t last for long. You give it a year or two and you’ll be looking at a much darkened surface. Pretty much the same for a cedar.
People think these surface colors don’t change but they do. The sun does a number on them. So, you’re going to have to eventually stain it anyway. I would make the decision based on the wood’s durability as much as its look, because it’s going to change over time.
LESLIE: Well, no matter which wood product you do choose, remember, you’ve got to protect your investment by staining and sealing it regularly, because that’s going to keep your outdoor-living space looking totally decked out.
Pick up the phone, shoot us an email, post your question. Whatever it is, we are ready to help you with whatever it is you are working on this spring.
And maybe you’ve got a painting project on your to-do list. Well, if so, we have got a great product to give away this hour. It’s the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer. This paint sprayer will make it so that you, as the homeowner, can take on some big painting projects all on your own. It’s easy to use. It applies a high-quality finish that you definitely can be proud of. It’s never been easier to paint like a pro. Check it out both online and in-store at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
TOM: That Wagner Control Pro 170 Paint Sprayer is going out to one listener drawn at random. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it. And that means you need to reach out to us, right now, with your home improvement question. You can go to MoneyPit.com, click on Leave Us a Message. Then you get to record your question and we will put you at the top of the list for getting an answer on the show.
LESLIE: Debbie in Arkansas is on the line and has a question to help her daughter’s house.
What can we do for you guys?
DEBBIE: Hi. My daughter recently bought a house. It’s an older house. It’s been remodeled. And she was going to renovate around her fireplace since she discovered that the large wall behind the fireplace, which is about a 20-foot-wide wall, has got – it had brick behind the plaster. And so, she took all the plaster down but it had been put up with Liquid Nails. So there’s Liquid Nails all over this brick – all over it – and it’s made a terrible mess.
TOM: Oh, boy.
DEBBIE: And she’s called in a couple of people to get bids and it was thousands of dollars to either re-brick over it or chisel it down. And they said it would probably ruin the brick if they did. And so I was just curious if you had any ideas at all. We looked up on the internet and there was one about a heat gun, possibly, but I thought maybe you might have a cheaper or easier way of doing it.
TOM: Wow. It’s quite a mess. Yeah, I mean certainly, you can use a heat gun but a heat gun is very hot and it’s going to cause all kinds of fumes. And the problem with the fact that you had this type of adhesive, it’s going to soak into the pores of the brick. So, at best, even after doing all that, you’re going to end up painting the brick, which we hate to tell anybody to do, because it’s going to – otherwise, it’s just going to look terrible. You’re never going to have that natural brick. That decision was made for you by whoever decided it was a good idea to glue the plaster right to the brick without putting up any kind of a furring strip or something of that nature.
There are, you know, various types of adhesive softeners out there but I fear that even if you went through all that trouble, you’re still going to have a very undesirable-looking surface. So, I think if – I’m sorry it’s all torn up now but I think if it was me, I would probably fur over that, attach wood strips to that brick surface and I would probably put new drywall or some other surface over it, at this point, and give up on the idea of having an exposed-brick wall unless, of course, you want to re-brick the whole thing, which is a big mess and a big job.
DEBBIE: And a big expense, too.
TOM: And a big expense, yeah. Of course. Yep. Absolutely.
DEBBIE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, by the time most of us spot a roof leak, the water is usually dripping through a ceiling somewhere. But roof leaks actually start forming a lot earlier than that. We’re going to share how to catch leaks in the making, in today’s Roof Review Tip presented by Roof Maxx.
Now, there are a lot of ways that roof leaks can form but the vast majority of leaks happen at the points where the roof sections intersect. Now, this is where the roof gets the most movement in terms of expansion and contraction. And all of that movement can definitely lead to a leak.
TOM: Yeah. Now, here are some great examples of how this happens.
First up, let’s talk about roof valleys. Now, you’ve seen these. This is where different sections of the roof sort of come together. Typically, they form sort of a V where you have sort of two surfaces, two planes that are running water towards this seam in the middle that’s in this V shape. Sometimes it’s at a 45-degree angle, depending on the pitch. But where those shingles come together, you’re either going to have metal flashing that lays at the bottom of that channel or you’re going to have the shingles that overlap and sort of lock together. But because this is an area where water collects on its way to your gutters and it’s an intersection of two big sections, we will frequently find that leaks form here when the flashing of the shingles wears out from all of that movement.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another spot are your plumbing vents. So, when you look at your roof, have you ever noticed all of those pipes that are sticking out? Well, those are the plumbing vents and they share a very common form of rubber-sealed flashing. It’s like a boot that goes over the vent and then under the shingles. Now, the problem is that that rubber seal is going to wear out from exposure to sunlight, then it’s going to leak. And that usually shows up in your bathroom or your kitchen ceilings that are just below where that vent pipe is located.
TOM: Now, finally, let’s talk about chimneys. Now, if you have a brick chimney that goes up through the roof, the flashing system that basically creates the seal between it and the roof is made up of two parts which we call “flashing” and “counterflashing.” Now, the flashing goes under the shingles and up against the side of the chimney and the counterflashing actually gets cut into one of the mortar joints and then folds over that flashing piece. They sort of form a sliding joint that allows for normal movement of the chimney due to wind.
Now, while you like to think that your chimneys don’t move, they actually move quite a bit. I’ve seen it. When the wind hits it, they’re going to move a little bit. They can move a couple of inches at a time. But they get sort of held in place by the sections of the roof around it.
That flashing system, though, when it leaks, repairs need to be done. Now, most commonly, you’ll find a roofer – especially the lazy kind – will trowel some roof cement around it. We don’t like that. What we want our roofer to do is to replace the flashing completely with new flashing, new base flashing, new counterflashing because that is going to stand up for the long run.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? While all these situations can cause big leaks, they’re pretty easy for a pro to spot early on. Companies like Roof Maxx offer a maintenance package that focuses on the most leak-prone areas of the roof. And Roof Maxx’s experts will inspect your roof and make minor repairs to the most common issues that are going to help protect your home.
TOM: And that’s today’s Roof Review Tip presented by Roof Maxx. A Roof Maxx treatment restores flexibility and waterproofing protection of aging asphalt-shingle roofs, extending the life by as much as 15 years. Roof Maxx treatments come with a 5-year flexibility guarantee and are purchased through a nationwide network of factory-trained and certified dealers who also apply the treatment. Learn more at RoofMaxx.com. That’s Roof – M-a-x-x – .com.
LESLIE: Dylan is looking for some help with a project and writes in to say, “I live in Southern Kentucky and during the summer months, we get condensation dripping off the A/C ducts in the crawlspace. I don’t want this to keep happening again but I wonder, what can I do to really stop it?”
TOM: So, condensation happens when you have warm, moist air strike a cold surface. And the most common example of that is the glass of iced tea that you took out on a warm summer day. And you notice when you first took it out, there’s no water on the outside of that glass. But leave it out on the picnic table for a minute or two and it will be all drippy. You’ll start to see a little puddle form underneath it. And that’s because that warm, moist air, as the air chills it can’t hold as much moisture. Hence, it releases that moisture and that’s how you see the water droplets. So, a crawlspace, often in a damp area – that’s what’s happening here for Dylan.
So, Dylan, what you need to do is simply insulate those ducts. There is a type of insulation, that is usually foil-faced on both sides, that can be wrapped around those existing air-conditioning ducts. And this way, there won’t be a cold surface for that moisture to rest on and it won’t condense and drip any further.
And by the way, while you’re at it, you should take steps that you can to try to reduce crawlspace moisture. And those steps would include: number one, cleaning your gutters; number two, extending your downspouts away from the foundation perimeter; number three, making sure you have a vapor barrier, which is nothing more than a sheet of plastic laid across that entire crawlspace dirt floor; and fourth, put some vents in that crawlspace if you don’t have them already, because this will reduce the amount of moisture that’s there in the first place and further help you reduce that condensation issue.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Anita in Illinois. Now, Anita says, “I’m going to have to install a new central air-conditioning system this year. How do I know what size to get for my 1,800-square-foot single-story home?”
Now, that’s super important because if you size it too big – while you might think, “Woohoo, more air conditioning,” that’s got a whole bunch of other problems.
TOM: Yeah, you’re right, Leslie. Because most people will try to go – think bigger is better and they’ll always go with the bigger unit. But a lot of things happen when you use one that’s too big. So, first of all, it’s going to cycle, which means it’s going to go on and off and on and off and on and off a lot more than it should. That’s going to definitely shorten the life. But because it doesn’t run long enough in doing that, it also doesn’t dehumidify the house as much as air conditioning typically does. That’s going to leave you feeling sort of cold and clammy. So that’s really not a good idea, either. And of course, it wastes a ton of energy.
Now, figuring out the exact size of an air conditioner is going to be dependent on a lot of factors. And that’s why there’s a calculation called a “heat-loss calculation” that a professional HVAC contractor would and should do on your house. They shouldn’t be guessing at this. The heat-loss calculation takes into consideration how much insulation you have, how many windows you have, how many windows you have on the south side, whether the glass is insulated or not, do we have to compensate for heat gain through those windows and a lot of other factors.
The rule of thumb is that you will need 1 ton of air conditioning for 600 to 800 square feet of house space – of house floor plan. But again, you’ve got to do the heat-loss calculation to kind of dial it in beyond that.
LESLIE: You know what, Anita? It is a big investment. I mean air-conditioning systems are not going to be inexpensive, so you want to make sure it’s sized properly. This way, you can have it for the long run. And get with an efficient model so you’ll be super happy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your weekend with us. We hope we gave you a few tips and ideas that you find useful as you get projects done around your house. Remember, you can reach out to us. So as you’re stretched out in that lounge chair, thinking about something you want to get done and you don’t know how to tackle it, you can always go to MoneyPit.com, click on Leave Us a Message, record your question. We will get back to you on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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